Posted by: atowhee | October 18, 2017


In Europe where they take climate change seriously be study indicates how far we’ve gone down the road toward the latest major extinction event.  Three-fourths of the insect population has vanished.  Can we get nostalgic for mosquitoes and recall the joy of seeing a dragonfly over the lake?

Posted by: atowhee | October 18, 2017


October 18

Something shifted overnight.  I didn’t hear it, or feel it. But the birds did.  This morning there was no flock of goldfinches cleaning out the feeders.  After 1PM a single American Goldfinch appeared.  Today the juncos became the most numerous bird in our garden, not counting all the robins flying around the neighborhood but staying in the trees.  As I anticipated the juncos will become the dominant bird, unless this turns out to be a siskin winter.  Most of the American Goldfinches sensed something and departed overnight.  I wish them well as they head to the coast or south to California.  I hope their wintering grounds have not been burned over.

At Joe Dancer this morning a trio of flickers and a flock of robins were plucking the ripe, white berries off a stand of red osier dogwoods on the steep river bank.robosier2robosier1Even the oaks are giving up some of their leaves on this gusty day.  The sky promised rain all day and never delivered.  Campaign on rain, deliver cloudy prospects.  Sound familiar?  The gusts were often more full of gold than my feeders today.

Before the wind picked up:IMG_0296Here you can see the yellowed leaves sailing before the wind, passing before the dark trees beyond:leafblowleafblow2at restI looked for the Northern Shrike along Airport Road late this afternoon to no avail,

820 NW 19th Street, McMinnville, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Oct 18, 2017 7:00 AM.  
14 species

Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  3
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  1
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) (Colaptes auratus [cafer Group])  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  3
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Chestnut-backed Chickadee (Poecile rufescens)  2
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)  10
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) (Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group])  6
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  1
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  2

Joe Dancer Park, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Oct 18, 2017 10:40 AM.  7 species

Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Feral Pigeon))  4
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) (Colaptes auratus [cafer Group])  4
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  2
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  3
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  20
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) (Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group])  15
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  2

Posted by: atowhee | October 17, 2017


Before the drizzle set upon us Rob Schulman and I birded Hagg Lake this morning.  Again, most of the action was at the shallow end, much of the birdlife visible from C-Ramp or Tanner Creek Overlook.
Coots out-numbered every other species but there were ten species of waterfowl that we could see, plus grebes, loons, et al.

Highlight was when Rob spotted a gang of little birds in a tree at the C-Ramp parking lot.  They turned out to be my first Golden-crowned Kinglets of the season on the valley floor.  The male Hooded Mergansers are already in full breeding plumage splendor.

fiv duxAbove: pair of wigeons, trip of GW Teal.  Below: Great Blue Heron, immature, slowly white-washing his favorite perching rocks at C-Ramp.gbh rock2inwaterAbove: Ring-billed Gull and two female Hooded Mergansers.  Below: wigeon and teal.inwater2Pair of Hooded Mergansers and a Ring-necked Duck, male, which I didn’t even recognize until I got home and looked at the images.  I was focused–like my camera–on the Hoodies.  Fuzzy images due to low light and misty conditions.inwater3inwater4Two Lesser Scaup cruising on the shore we heard Canada Geese but did not see them.  They were over the ridge beyond the Blue Heron’s perching point.  Then two honkers  curved around the peninsula and landed on the barren lakebed.  They were the vanguard.  Next came a handful of loud invaders, a bold landing party who strode uphill from the lake after their own smooth landing.  Within moments came the main force, flying across the narrow bay and seizing control of shoreline and dry slope on the other side.  This force included a small company of Cackling Geese as well.cago inavdecago incomingcago incoming2land-dWaxwings preening after a berry filling meal nearby.waxw1hgg-ahgg-bThe only Red-tail we saw.  He, misty-eyed, looked us over and departed.  Thus were we rejected as both possible meal, or acceptable company.IMG_0216Uphill from C-Ramp the Steller’s Jays were loudly protesting something that irked them: a hawk, a pygmy-owl, a visiting raven?  We later saw two ravens cleaning up roadkill though they reluctantly moved off the pavement to let us pass, but one was back in the middle of the road within four seconds of our passage.

Henry Hagg Lake Park (Scoggins Valley Park), Washington, Oregon, US
Oct 17, 2017 9:40 AM – 11:10 AM.  31 species

Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)  25
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  60
American Wigeon (Mareca americana)  2
Mallard (Northern) (Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos/conboschas)  50
Green-winged Teal (American) (Anas crecca carolinensis)  60
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)  15
Ring-necked Duck   x
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)  20
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)  30
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)  2
Common Loon (Gavia immer)  2
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  1
Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis)  17
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  2
Great Blue Heron (Blue form) (Ardea herodias [herodias Group])  3
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1
American Coot (Fulica americana)  200
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  4
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)  2
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  4
California Gull (Larus californicus)  6
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) (Colaptes auratus [cafer Group])  4
Steller’s Jay (Coastal) (Cyanocitta stelleri [stelleri Group])  4
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  2
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa)  8
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  12
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)  40
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) (Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group])  2
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  1

Posted by: atowhee | October 16, 2017


October 16, 2017 There are no orb-weavers in our garden this fall.  They were plentiful in the previous two years.  Lemmings?

Sunny, mild day with temp in the high sixties.  The dogs and birded Wennerberg and the side roads west of Westside Road itself.   Five kestrels along Hill Road between Baker Creek Road and Shelton Road.  Also on Hill Road I stopped for a group of crows.  Not enough to be a murder of crows, but perhaps at least a verbal assault of crows.  Five perched high on the maple trees along the road.  Then like the officious butler in an Edwardian drama one announced my arrival and simultaneously denigrated my presence.   I scurried away, chastened and mouselike.  Crows rule.

Nearly everywhere I went this morning, waxwings adorned the treetops.  This image from Wennerberg Park:WAX3WAX3AOne kestrel perched:K1Autumn, on a perfect morning:IMG_0173IMG_0195

Posted by: atowhee | October 16, 2017


October 14th Don Albright and his wife saw a pair of Great Gray Owls at La Pine State Park.   It was likely an adult male and his offspring who was learning to be an owl.  Here is Don’s report (his photos follow):
“I wanted to let you know that this morning my wife Lory and I saw an adult and a juvenile Gray Owl along the Deschutes River at LaPine State Park.  We got great looks–and photos–of each bird.  Also heard the juvenile vocalize a few times.  A similar call to the juvenile Great Horned Owls we hear here at our place on Chehalem Mountain.  It was a beautiful occasion this morning. Perhaps the owls were a little more out-in-the-open than usual because it was such a cold morning–about 22 degrees when we saw them in the sunshine.  It was 15 degrees earlier in the morning at LaPine.
“I see several previous reports of GGOW on ebird from LaPine State Park, but none from this calendar year.  There was one reported last month just a bit east of the state park.”
6241736000_IMG_46096241736000_IMG_46416241736000_IMG_46426241736000_IMG_46466241736000_IMG_4652La Pine is near the northern end of this bird’s breeding range on the eastern slope of the Cascades.  I believe the owls are found as far north as the eastern slope of Mt. Jefferson which is north of Bend.  There is no evidence that the bird ever extended as far north as the Columbia River or Mt. Hood in western Oregon.  The only known breeding range in Washington State is in the eastern third of the state.   GGOs are also found in northeastern Oregon in the Blue and Wallowa Mountains and are stars of the Ladd Marsh Bird Festival there every May.
Thanks for sharing, Don.
Posted by: atowhee | October 15, 2017


The shallow end of Hagg Lake was very busy this evening.  I got there just before sunset and need to make a return trip…soon.  Loons, grebe, dabbling ducks.  Did I mention the hundreds of coots?  Nearly all the birds were visible by scope from C-Ramp Recreation Area.  Note: the south side of the loop drive is closed.  You can only reach the upper end of the lake by staying to the right when the road splits near the dam and entrance.

The only surprise was the Red-throated Loon.  He was cruising along with the three much larger Commons.  This species has been occasionally reported from Hagg Lake on eBird but never this early in the autumn.  I suspect that last storm from the north that brought down the siskins and the Fox Sparrows and their ilk.

I hadn;t been at the lake long and had seen exactly two birds: a gull and a junco.  I then heard a flock of geese.  I couldn’t see them along the lakeshore. Were they around the point in a bay?  Then I realized they were getting louder.  I got out my camera and waited.  They soon came over the treetops into the opening overhead.  Three Canadas leading a trailing line of Cacklers:GEESELINE3IMG_0170IMG_0171

Henry Hagg Lake Park (Scoggins Valley Park), Washington, Oregon, US
Oct 15, 2017 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Protocol: Traveling
10.0 mile(s)
20 species

Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)  40
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)   3
Gadwall (Mareca strepera)  2
American Wigeon (Mareca americana)  20
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  75
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)  30
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  50
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)  25
Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata)  1
Common Loon (Gavia immer)  3
Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus)  2
Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis)  9
Great Blue Heron (Blue form) (Ardea herodias [herodias Group])  4
American Coot (Fulica americana)  300

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  6
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)  1
California Gull (Larus californicus)  10
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  20
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  1
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) (Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group])  1
Posted by: atowhee | October 14, 2017


Heading south from McMinnville on Hwy 99 there were foggy bottoms.  Wed did not get out of the fog until we drove up Rice Lane, at least 150′ above the valley floor.   Baskett Slough greeted us with gray fog and lousy visibility beyond fifty feet.  The Pond along Coville Road had attracted a flock of Barn Swallows.  What are they still doing here? I saw a mixed flock of Barn and Violet-green Swallows feeding over the Willamette at the Wheatland Ferry crosssing around noon yesterday.  Later in the afternoon they had left that spot.

Today was our weekly field trip for the McMinnville Parks’ birding class.  I did get to see my first Ruby-crowned Kinglets of the season.  They were very busy, of course, making the nearby Myrtle Warblers look slow and stodgy.  The songbird flock at the Baskett Slough parking lot along Colville Road was very busy.  My first Fox Sparrow of the season was in the flock there.

Even though we got within thirty feet of these waxwings, the fog prevented any clear images.  The youngster is the one with the streaky breast.  The flock was cleaning out the fruit on a chokecherry hawthorn growing next to Rice flapcw sitzcw yngstThe best sighting of the day was NOT a bird, it was this sign.  A co-operative project to bring back a good-sized parcel of oak savannah.  The Acorn Woodpeckers and I applaud.  Thank you, Keeler Estate Vineyard and friends.  This is also along Rice Lane, Amity.oak projct

Rice Ln., Yamhill, Oregon, US
Oct 14, 2017. Comments: cold fog. 5 species

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  20
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)  15
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) (Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group])  1
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  10
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1

Baskett Slough NWR, Polk, Oregon, US
Oct 14, 2017.  
23 species. fog.

Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)  X
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  X
Green-winged Teal (American) (Anas crecca carolinensis)  X
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  2
American Coot (Fulica americana)  6
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  11
Downy Woodpecker (Pacific) (Picoides pubescens gairdnerii/turati)  1
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) (Colaptes auratus [cafer Group])  1
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  1
Barn Swallow (American) (Hirundo rustica erythrogaster)  20
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)  3
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
American Pipit (Anthus rubescens)  2
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) (Setophaga coronata coronata)  8
Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca)  1
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) (Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group])  X
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  15
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  3
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)  3

Posted by: atowhee | October 12, 2017


Oct. 12

A cold, windy rain storm covered trees, grass, sidewalks and shrubs with water, shook their limbs and told all concerned that cold weather was here for sure.  The mountain birds heeded. This morning both Pine Siskins and Purple Finches showed up at our feeders for the first time this season. Likely they just dropped down from the Coastal Range forests. It’s been two years since we had siskins on a regular basis.  They were abundant during the 2015-6 winter but absent all last winter.  They are one of the least predictable wintering birds in this region, varying widely in their number and location from one winter to the next to the next…

These lousy images were all taken through a window. Finches: American Gold, Purple twice, Siskin:GF AT TROUGHPUFACEPUF-PAIRSISK

820 NW 19th Street, McMinnville, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Oct 12, 2017. 14 species

Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  2
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) (Colaptes auratus [cafer Group])  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  1
Chestnut-backed Chickadee (Poecile rufescens)  2
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) (Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group])  4
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  1
Purple Finch (Western) (Haemorhous purpureus californicus)  2
Pine Siskins 2

American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  6
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  X

Posted by: atowhee | October 11, 2017


*Includes juncos, of course.

October 11:

Morning rain, then a sunny tease mid-day, then clouds sled down the eastern slope of the Coast Range to keep the solar warmth from getting to the earth.  A cool and damp October day.

Plenty of hungry birds in the garden.  American Goldfinch still the dominant flock in numbers, but the juncos are gradually building.  Four today, a week ago just one or two.  Sometime this winter juncos will undoubtedly out-number all the other species combined.

At Joe Dancer Park the dogs and I find the winter sparrows settling in.  One flock of juncos basing operations along the path in a thicket of saplings.  A flock of Golden-crowned Sparrows with an adjunct of goldfinches in tall weeds bordering the riparian forest in a remote part of the park.

The colors of October deepen.  Leaves falling are more often the source of motion in the forest canopy now, not birds.  Oaks are ever the last to shed. Most fallen leaves return to the earth whence their particles came.  Some will drift down into the river, thence to the Pacific Ocean. There their molecules will mix with the trillions of others compounding that primordial soup where life began.

The pennyroyal is now defunct.  This invasive mint has been cured by the August sun and its dark upright stalks no longer carry much of the pungent, fresh scent that clings to your shoes or toes in summer.  Bordering the path, Queen Anne’s lace is starting to release its sticky little velcro footballs which need to picked from sox or dog fur. Most of the QAL are through blooming.  Dying now, they bow their seedy heads toward the earth.  They might be mourning  the passed summer that nurtured their brief lives.

IMG_9151IMG_9155IMG_9159IMG_9161The Boy Scouts may think they came up with “be prepared” but it was the alder’s motto eons ago.  The buds for next spring are already in place.  Hell, I don;t even have enough firewood for the coming winter…alder1Admit it, this poison oak is beautiful…nice contrast with the pale yellow blackberry leaves.IMG_9133IMG_9137IMG_9140IMG_9141IMG_9145IMG_9154

820 NW 19th Street, McMinnville, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Oct 11, 2017.  14 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X     fly over
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  1
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) (Colaptes auratus [cafer Group])  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  1
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  2
Chestnut-backed Chickadee (Poecile rufescens)  1
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  2
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) (Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group])  4
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  1
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  1
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  20
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  X

Joe Dancer Park, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Oct 11, 2017 10:00 AM – 10:40 AM.  9 species

Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) (Colaptes auratus [cafer Group])  1
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  8
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) (Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group])  25
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  15
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  20

Posted by: atowhee | October 10, 2017


I don;t often guarantee birders that one can see a specific species in a specific place outside of nesting season….but…right now I can tell you that Great Gray Owls are being seen, in action, at Medford’s Craterian Theatre.  These owls are all caught on canvas by Eva Thiemann, wife of Peter who is my co-author on the Great Gray Owls of California, Oregon and Washington.GGO PAINTING

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